Wisconsin DHS officials update on state’s potential COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:53 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Both Pfizer and Moderna recently announced promising results after COVID-19 vaccine trials. While neither has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet, Wisconsin is already preparing to distribute them.

"It will be the most extraordinary public health intervention our state has ever undertaken,” Wisconsin Department of Public Health Deputy Director Julie Willems Van Dijk said.

She said challenges include dealing with multiple vaccines containing different vaccination schedules and the need to store them at extremely cold temperatures.

Even when the FDA does approve vaccine, not everybody can get vaccinated right away. It will be distributed in phases.

“At first we will prioritize healthcare providers and support staff, as well as long-term care staff. And as supply increases, we’ll widen the criteria for the recommended vaccination to other essential workers and people at high risk for getting sick from COVID-19. It will take several months before vaccine supply will meet the public’s demand," said Dr. Stephanie Schauer, Wisconsin DHS Immunization Program Director.

When the state receives enough vaccine doses, its distribution plan will be similar to the state’s testing strategy.

“Our testing program... has touched all corners of the state and we are fully committed to making sure no matter where you live in Wisconsin you will have access to this vaccine," Willems Van Dijk said.

Even with a potential vaccine on the horizon, it will likely take months to vaccinate everyone.

Willems Van Dijk said it’s important people still follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We all need to continue to wear our mask, keep socially distanced, keep gatherings small, wash our hands and definitely stay home if you’re sick and get tested,” she said.

She also said COVID-19 vaccines would likely take multiple doses to be effective.

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